Wise words from 100+ years ago.

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viridens 

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4. Experimenting with Warres after 30 years of Nationals
Nice. Please can you upload the rest of the article?
 

Finman 

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That article suits to the UK beekeepers, which over 90% are 2 hive beekeepers. When this mass of people starts produce maximum yields with minimum cost, UK will be a honey exporter. With 30% export tax to European markets. A tough competitor to Ukraine honey.
 

rolande 

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For me, alarm bells ring when I read of the 'educated classes' turning their attention to anything which by nature is a highly practical pursuit.
 

Erichalfbee 

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For me, alarm bells ring when I read of the 'educated classes' turning their attention to anything which by nature is a highly practical pursuit.
Like “Gentlemen Farmers” ?
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

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For me, alarm bells ring when I read of the 'educated classes' turning their attention to anything which by nature is a highly practical pursuit.
we could even follow up on that piece with a quote from 'Beekeeping in the tropics by Dr Frank Smith Head of the Beekeeping division Forest Department of Tanganyica which was published in 1960 - he was, of course talking about the BBKA........
fb.jpg
 

pargyle 

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You see ... I totally disagree with the last paragraph on that page

"The object in keeping bees should be to produce the greatest quantity of honey as expeditiously as possible. and at the smallest cost and this can only be done by adopting a system which multiplies to a maximum the number of working bees and stimulates them to the greatest actvitity"

This is the absolute anithesis of my philosophy on keeping bees .. yes I like to get a honey crop, yes I look after my bees and I work with them but ...

I think forcing them (or frying to) to produce a bigger crop, at the lowest possible cost ... sorry not what I think is good for the bees, their long term health, the stress level of the colony and ultimately their survival.

Work with them and they will produce a surplus which can be harvested ... I know I'm not a proper beekeeper measured by the standards of 100 years ago by someone who quotes the USA as the shining example of beekeeping. I wonder if he would have the same opinion looking at the state of some beekeeping in the USA now ....

Sorry .... not very wise words in my humble opinion.
 

Antipodes 

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Chris Hiatt's family company run about 7-8000 hives. He says in November 2020... " The old saying was one guy could run 1,000 hives by himself. For sure that number has to be down nowadays." They use mainly Italian queens of course in the US, and have almonds. Pollination has now become more important financially than honey. Interesting too that queens do not live as long as they used to.
 
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You see ... I totally disagree with the last paragraph on that page

"The object in keeping bees should be to produce the greatest quantity of honey as expeditiously as possible. and at the smallest cost and this can only be done by adopting a system which multiplies to a maximum the number of working bees and stimulates them to the greatest actvitity"

This is the absolute anithesis of my philosophy on keeping bees .. yes I like to get a honey crop, yes I look after my bees and I work with them but ...

I think forcing them (or frying to) to produce a bigger crop, at the lowest possible cost ... sorry not what I think is good for the bees, their long term health, the stress level of the colony and ultimately their survival.

Work with them and they will produce a surplus which can be harvested ... I know I'm not a proper beekeeper measured by the standards of 100 years ago by someone who quotes the USA as the shining example of beekeeping. I wonder if he would have the same opinion looking at the state of some beekeeping in the USA now ....

Sorry .... not very wise words in my humble opinion.
The article which was presented in post #1 of this discussion thread presents some fascinating observations, and I agree with Viridens (#3) in being interested to read the whole of that article.

This response (#9) by Pargyle indicates clearly that he has selectively read the article, and that his criticism of the article is strongly influenced by personal bias. Whenever we read a published article in a magazine, or a letter to this forum, it is important to consider what the writer is actually expressing, rather than to selectively emphasize (and misinterpret) what was actually written.

Of course, it is very important that we measure, or compare, what an author writes against objective and scientifically provable facts.

Pargyle said, “You see ... I totally disagree with the last paragraph on that page”.

He then continued by saying, “This is the absolute anithesis (anithesis??) of my philosophy on keeping bees .. yes I like to get a honey crop, yes I look after my bees and I work with them but ... I think forcing them (or frying to) to produce a bigger crop, at the lowest possible cost ... sorry not what I think is good for the bees, their long term health, the stress level of the colony and ultimately their survival.”

But Pargyle’s sentence which begins, “I think forcing them (or frying to) to produce a bigger crop, . . . . . .” - clearly indicates his bias, and also that he has read (assumed?) things that were not written in that article. When I read the particular paragraph which he quoted, I gained a different understanding, which I am highlighting here:
"The object in keeping bees should be to produce the greatest quantity of honey as expeditiously as possible. and at the smallest cost and this can only be done by adopting a system which multiplies to a maximum the number of working bees and stimulates them to the greatest actvitity (actvitity??)."

There seems to be plenty of evidence that the most productive bees are those in a strong colony. Suppose that the honey yields of several colonies of bees, living in the same apiary, were compared with each other. The information I have learned is that a large colony will produce much more honey than two smaller colonies, even though those two smaller colonies may have the same number of bees as in the large colony. The article (#1) does not claim, or even suggest forcing them (or frying to) be especially productive, but rather to provide the conditions in which the bees can perform best.

The article also makes other observations from that particular time:
“The common plan amongst cottage Bee-keepers is to bestow little or no care upon their stocks, . . . ”
and:
“Bee-keeping is admitted by all who have tried it to be highly profitable, even as practised in this country, where it is quite the exception to find any who may be said to do justice to these willing workers, or obtain one-fourth the return they are capable of affording under proper treatment.”
 

Erichalfbee 

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You see ... I totally disagree with the last paragraph on that page

"The object in keeping bees should be to produce the greatest quantity of honey as expeditiously as possible. and at the smallest cost and this can only be done by adopting a system which multiplies to a maximum the number of working bees and stimulates them to the greatest actvitity"

This is the absolute anithesis of my philosophy on keeping bees .. yes I like to get a honey crop, yes I look after my bees and I work with them but ...

I think forcing them (or frying to) to produce a bigger crop, at the lowest possible cost ... sorry not what I think is good for the bees, their long term health, the stress level of the colony and ultimately their survival.

Work with them and they will produce a surplus which can be harvested ... I know I'm not a proper beekeeper measured by the standards of 100 years ago by someone who quotes the USA as the shining example of beekeeping. I wonder if he would have the same opinion looking at the state of some beekeeping in the USA now ....

Sorry .... not very wise words in my humble opinion.
Same here.
I haven't seen the whole article but I would certainly not apply that paragraph to my beekeeping; It's not how I keep my bees but I can imagine the circumstances in which it was written
There was a different environmental climate in those days?
Our understanding of how bees work was in its infancy and we had no varroa.
We had only just emerged from a war that had wiped a huge swathe of young men from the face of the earth. The country was on its knees and maximising all production would have been paramount.

Interesting to see the observation on how far the German Apiarists had already surpassed our skills. Something I hope @B+. can comment on.
As for USA beekeeping, maybe the world was yet to discover a taste for Almonds
 

B+. 

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Same here.
I haven't seen the whole article but I would certainly not apply that paragraph to my beekeeping; It's not how I keep my bees but I can imagine the circumstances in which it was written
There was a different environmental climate in those days?
Our understanding of how bees work was in its infancy and we had no varroa.
We had only just emerged from a war that had wiped a huge swathe of young men from the face of the earth. The country was on its knees and maximising all production would have been paramount.

Interesting to see the observation on how far the German Apiarists had already surpassed our skills. Something I hope @B+. can comment on.
As for USA beekeeping, maybe the world was yet to discover a taste for Almonds
I'm sure there are other members who have just as much incite into beekeeping in other countries as I have. However, I will say that there are groups that take beekeeping very seriously, not just in Germany, but all across Europe. We would do well to emulate them here.
I have always said that I learned more about breeding from our European neighbours than I ever did in this country. That is true, but, I am reminded of the old saying that "an empty vessel makes the most noise". I just think that you can't learn anything new while you are too busy talking about your own ideas.
I will take my own advice now and listen to what others have to say ;)
 
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SteveG 

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My Cottage Farm - Kinard B Edwards. First edition 1870. believe this section is from edition published 1902.

I copied the 18 pages regarding bees, I did try to attach, file too large. Happy to email attachment if anyone interested.
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

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Too many - but not nearly enough
Work with them and they will produce a surplus which can be harvested ... I know I'm not a proper beekeeper measured by the standards of 100 years ago by someone who quotes the USA as the shining example of beekeeping. I wonder if he would have the same opinion looking at the state of some beekeeping in the USA now ....
But he wasn't was he? this was all in the infancy of modern beekeeping where America was leading the charge on thinking beekeeping and in Britain we hadn't yet reached the potty training stage and yes, working with the bees not just using the skeppist's system of kill and harvest. With pioneers like Root, Langstroth, Demarree and a swathe of others, the US did lead the way in modern beekeeping.
I think you have read a bit too much into the wording of this Victorian author who was railing against the false ethos of the BBKA that you couldn't make a living from bees and almost taken offence where there isn't any.
I think we all, to some extent want to 'maximise' our investment (I can't see anything wrong with that statement) and we all know that a healthy, bursting colony will produce a lot more honey. You have to realise as well, that until the first world war, we, in this country were still primarily keeping bees in skeps, even Manley started off collecting bees from other skeppists when they were drumming them.
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

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Too many - but not nearly enough
I think we must also realise that at the time of the original publication, British agriculture in general was in urgent need of rationalisation and 'modernisation' (although I admit, not all of the solutions were, in retrospect, the best) and general apathy and the need to 'up our game' in the food production stakes meant that the industry needed to be dragged up by the bootstraps and not all of the language then suits our new snowflake ( 😁 ) mindset.
 

Somerford 

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The author may have made observations based on the prevailing reality of the time - however fast forward 120 years and we still rely far too much on imported honey. Little has changed.
See below a photo of a local Tesco store honey shelf this week
One English honey out of all the honey on offer.
 

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Beebe 

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I think you have read a bit too much into the wording of this Victorian author who was railing against the false ethos of the BBKA that you couldn't make a living from bees and almost taken offence where there isn't any.
My thoughts too, but put better than me below.. :)

"The object in keeping bees should be to produce the greatest quantity of honey as expeditiously as possible. and at the smallest cost and this can only be done by adopting a system which multiplies to a maximum the number of working bees and stimulates them to the greatest actvitity"
From what I have seen so far, I admire your approach to beekeeping, but I think your interpretation of that statement of intent is flawed. Even amongst those amateur beekeepers for whom maximum honey production is not the major objective, most people will try to be efficient in our beekeeping and try not to waste money. Keeping total bee populations low does not seem to be anyones' priority and obviously, the bees and their keepers want them to be as busy as possible.
 

pargyle 

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The article which was presented in post #1 of this discussion thread presents some fascinating observations, and I agree with Viridens (#3) in being interested to read the whole of that article.

This response (#9) by Pargyle indicates clearly that he has selectively read the article, and that his criticism of the article is strongly influenced by personal bias. Whenever we read a published article in a magazine, or a letter to this forum, it is important to consider what the writer is actually expressing, rather than to selectively emphasize (and misinterpret) what was actually written.

Of course, it is very important that we measure, or compare, what an author writes against objective and scientifically provable facts.

Pargyle said, “You see ... I totally disagree with the last paragraph on that page”.

He then continued by saying, “This is the absolute anithesis (anithesis??) of my philosophy on keeping bees .. yes I like to get a honey crop, yes I look after my bees and I work with them but ... I think forcing them (or frying to) to produce a bigger crop, at the lowest possible cost ... sorry not what I think is good for the bees, their long term health, the stress level of the colony and ultimately their survival.”

But Pargyle’s sentence which begins, “I think forcing them (or frying to) to produce a bigger crop, . . . . . .” - clearly indicates his bias, and also that he has read (assumed?) things that were not written in that article. When I read the particular paragraph which he quoted, I gained a different understanding, which I am highlighting here:
"The object in keeping bees should be to produce the greatest quantity of honey as expeditiously as possible. and at the smallest cost and this can only be done by adopting a system which multiplies to a maximum the number of working bees and stimulates them to the greatest actvitity (actvitity??)."

There seems to be plenty of evidence that the most productive bees are those in a strong colony. Suppose that the honey yields of several colonies of bees, living in the same apiary, were compared with each other. The information I have learned is that a large colony will produce much more honey than two smaller colonies, even though those two smaller colonies may have the same number of bees as in the large colony. The article (#1) does not claim, or even suggest forcing them (or frying to) be especially productive, but rather to provide the conditions in which the bees can perform best.

The article also makes other observations from that particular time:
“The common plan amongst cottage Bee-keepers is to bestow little or no care upon their stocks, . . . ”
and:
“Bee-keeping is admitted by all who have tried it to be highly profitable, even as practised in this country, where it is quite the exception to find any who may be said to do justice to these willing workers, or obtain one-fourth the return they are capable of affording under proper treatment.”
My concern is the heading 'Wise words from 100 years ago' and then a paragraph which appear to exhort the beekeeper to maximise a honey crop at the lowest cost and by all means possible. It is incompatible with my ethos in keeping bees which is to work with them and avoid manipulations that force the colony to grow beyond their natural size. I'm not a beefarmer - few on this forum are - and to introduce a thread that appears to rail against what our bees would do within the normal scheme of things could lead some beekeepers, with less experience, to take the paragraph literally.

In the time it was written there were inefficiencies in cottage beekeeping and of course these practices (catch, grow, crop and destroy) could be improved upon at the time.. but modern beekeeping (in my opinion) has much to commend it ... I don't believe in artificially reducing the size of colonies any more than I believe in artificially seeking to increase the size of colonies. I've found that the healthiest colonies and those that perform well (across a whole range of attributes) are those that suffer less manipulation, less unseasonal feeding, that live primarily on their own forage and with a minimal amout of interference from the beekeeper. I'm NOT suggesting that bees should be left to their own devices and I'm certainly not keeping my bees as pets - they earn their keep - but that paragraph just does not sit well with how I think bees are best served by the beekeeper.
 

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